'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
TRUTH AND THE ART OF FICTION
It has come to my attention that many readers believe that I completely make up the stories and situations I write about in this humor column. For example, last winter I declined an invitation to help a friend move some furniture, explaining that I had recently hurt my back lifting a snow blower. He said, “Oh, I read about that in your column. I thought you just made it up.”
“Why would I make up something like that?” I asked. He replied, “I dunno. Maybe so people would think you’re feeble and not ask you to move furniture?”
“Oh, good point,” I said. “But it really did happen. And my feeble back and I are NOT going to lift the other end of your sofa.”
Then more recently a very close relative, who I won’t identify other than to say we’ve raised two children together, asked me, “Did you really go through the carwash with one of the car windows open?”
“Why would I make up something like that?” I asked. She replied, “I dunno. Maybe so people would think you’re feeble minded and not ask you…anything?”
“Oh, good point,” I said. “But it really did happen. And everyone knows I have a screw loose so they already don’t ask me anything.”
Other column topics have evoked doubt. Many people were skeptical that I actually took ballroom dancing lessons. But I did (and somewhere Arthur Murray is rolling over—gracefully—in his grave).
Some were incredulous at the claim that I taught a college class. Well, I don’t blame you on this one—the students certainly were incredulous when they took one look at that evening’s guest lecturer—but it really happened.
A few friends expressed doubt that I even owned a waterbed, let alone that it sprung a leak in the middle of the night, prompting a reenactment of the famous Three Stooges “sinking rowboat” episode. Just ask the anonymous person with whom I’ve raised two children. It really happened.
A couple of readers did not believe that I cut my own hair with a Flowbee. Excuse me? Look a bit closer at the little photo—definitely not the work of a professional.
Finally, many people doubted my claim that I was a finalist in an essay-writing contest, with the grand prize being an all-expenses-paid trip to Ireland. Well, that actually happened, too. But unfortunately I did not win the grand prize. I lost out to a guy who wrote an essay comparing constipation to marriage. (Sheesh! And I thought my essay was immature!)
So the thing of it is, I do not completely make up the stories and situations in this column. The key word here is “completely.” I want to assure you there is always a nugget of truth as the basis of the subject matter. From that starting point I occasionally, um, what’s a good word? embellish. Yes, that’s it, I embellish the details in the interest of making the story a bit more, um, what’s a good word? unboring. (“Unboring”? That’s not even a word).
Next week I will be writing about an event that happened to me recently: I was abducted by space aliens, who pulled me into their flying saucer with a glowing tractor beam, and then performed gruesome medical experiments on me by inserting a probe into my, um, what’s a good word for tookus? Oh never mind.
Anyway, when you read next week’s column there will be a nugget of truth in there somewhere. Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to locate the nugget of truth and separate the fact from the, um, embellishment.
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